No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks
Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
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This gripping and triumphant memoir follows a living legend of extreme mountaineering as he makes his assault on history, one 8,000-meter summit at a time.
For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing’s holy grail: to stand atop the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest. As Viesturs recounts the stories of his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the flat, safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go.
A preternaturally cautious climber who once turned back 300 feet from the top of Everest but who would not shrink from a peak (Annapurna) known to claim the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit, Viesturs lives by an unyielding motto, “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” It is with this philosophy that he vividly describes fatal errors in judgment made by his fellow climbers as well as a few of his own close calls and gallant rescues. And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.
In addition to the raw excitement of Viesturs’s odyssey, No Shortcuts to the Top is leavened with many funny moments revealing the camaraderie between climbers. It is more than the first full account of one of the staggering accomplishments of our time; it is a portrait of a brave and devoted family man and his beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.
would complete the Seven Summits in 1985 when he climbed Everest, guided by David Breashears. Bass was a character. Loud, boisterous—he brought along a big hardback copy of Robert Service’s poems, and every night he’d either read them out loud or recite them from memory. He was our evening’s entertainment. For someone who’d started climbing late in life, he was actually quite good; he’d just plod steadily along. And he had considerable nerve. On the summit ridge of Everest with Breashears in
Everest, there were so many people on the mountain, some of whom had barely enough experience to be there. Nepal, in particular, seemed interested mainly in squeezing the greatest possible revenue out of the dozens of teams elbowing one another aside to get up Everest. This plethora of available permits had both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, you could obtain a permit on short notice, instead of having to apply years in advance and wait with bated breath to be “granted
with the engineers of the IMAX corporation as they radically redesigned the camera. Eventually they came up with a model that hit the scales at only forty-two pounds (including battery, lens, and a loaded film magazine). That’s still a tough load to carry up the South Col route, and such problems as positioning a super-stable tripod in the wind or changing the giant magazines could prove insurmountable. I got pretty intrigued myself, and when David asked if I could take a day off and go climb a
Hermann Buhl. Buhl, in fact, reached the summit only eighteen days before he would die on a neighboring peak, Chogolisa. This year, the twofer principle worked like a charm. In fantastic shape after Everest, Veikka and I stormed most of the way up Broad Peak in a mere three days in early July. There was only one problem: on the third day, we topped out on a prominent point that’s sometimes called the foresummit. A lot of climbers stop there, crediting themselves with bagging Broad Peak. But from
agreed immediately.” Having studied the face, we thought there was one nook where we could tuck a Camp II beneath several big ice cliffs. Above those cliffs, huge crevasses crisscrossed the slopes. We hoped that any avalanches coming down from higher on the mountain would get swallowed by those crevasses, and that other debris might plunge off the top of the cliffs guarding our camp and shoot right over us. We got that camp established, spent a single night there, and ventured a little ways